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RedScot

Well-known member
#1
@Ozark Wizard you may have the best advice about this. I wanted to PM you but thought I could provide a cautionary tale.
My tobacco crop froze last night. I knew when I transplanted that I was cutting it close, but didn't figure on a hard freeze until near Christmas - and in most years I'd've been safe. Not this year. We had about six hours of near 30°F temps, and when I got moving today my whole crop was wilted. From stalk to stem to leaf, there was obvious damage.
I cut it all in a last-ditch attempt to salvage what I can. I just came in from stringing it all up and hanging it from the rafters in my shop. I don't know how many of y'all grew up out in the country, but the whole shop smells like fresh mustard greens.
The question now is: will anything be salvageable? Is it even worth the attempt?
The burley, I figure, might be okay if the frost didn't burn it too badly. All of it was just starting to color so it was nearly ready to pick anyway.
But the virginias...I was taking the path of least resistance & was planning on letting it ripen on the stalk. That way, I hoped, I wouldn't have to worry about building a curing chamber. I've gotten some (very small) leaves from the lower stalks as they've turned golden yellow, but most of it was still out in the garden. The vast majority of it.
Am I losing it all?
Do I need to speed-build a "flue"?
Help!
 

Ozark Wizard

Well-known member
#3
Oh my...........

Well, it can't hurt to hang them and watch. If the leaves look kinda gooey they're toast. Once the cells are burst that's a wrap. Anything that looks like it will behave like a normal autumn leaf should be fine. I wouldn't worry about flu curing at this point, just go for the air cure. If you were to add heat to partially frozen foliage, you most likely will end up with something that looks like canned spinach.

Schnitzel. Sorry to hear about that....
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#4
20181115_195946.jpg Yeah, there are a few leaves that turned a bruise-ish color that I'm already writing off. There's way more green than I'd prefer - I never planned on having to deal with this situation though, so there you are.
Barring some brilliant quantum thermodynamic inspiration, the only thing I know to do is to watch and wait.
Even if I lose the whole crop I don't think it's a wasted effort. This was a starting point, and if life is not a learning process then I'm not paying attention.
 

Ozark Wizard

Well-known member
#5
Good show! Most of the leaves I'm seeing look salvageable. Now those bruised looking curled up ones you might want to separate from the others. Also, keep rotating the leaves around so they evenly dry. As they turn colour, rotate those out and store them in cardboard boxes in stacks. Keep rotating those too, leaves in the middle to the outside, that sort of thing. Watch for bugs and mold.
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#6
There are actually two strings, but the angle of the pic only shows the one in front, I think. The last couple of bunches (on the left end) are the small leaves that I just twisted into hands. The bright ginnies were stunted from jump, so if those wind up going south it's no great loss.
I tried to space the leaves out well to maximize airflow, but I'm going to keep a very careful eye. Rot will spread, and that may be the biggest problem. The weather's helping with insect control and that's to my advantage.
The smaller primed leaves - the ones I'd already pulled - have been a great object lesson. And there's always next year!
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#8
So far the wilting is going good. We haven't had any more freezing weather (the whole crop is exposed to outside air) and while I've been reluctant to cull out much. I'm keeping it agitated and I'm not getting any wet spots or rot or mold.
Figure it'll be another month at least before I know for sure, but overall the leaf is moving slowly from 20181121_110753.jpg green to yellow, which is a dang good sign.
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#10
20181128_201838~2.jpg Update So far so good. The cold weather is really slowing things down, but the coloring is steadily progressing. The virginias still look as if they're a lost cause, either drying green or turning an ugly bruise color where the frostbite was just too bad.
At least once a day I go through and agitate the leaves, making sure everybody has plenty of air and there isn't any mold. No rot, either.
I'll almost certainly have a good amount of burley at the end of things, and that's totally ok with me.
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#11
Anyway.
The weather's been alternating between ~70° & humid and ~50° & dry, and my little tobacco harvest has resultantly varied between crackly crisp & soft and flexible.
I'm not sure if it's time to make a leaf sandwich in a cardboard box or not. 20181207_162803.jpg 20181207_162812.jpg The poorly-limned pics don't tell a true tale. There's a lot of brown and a lot less green seeing the leaves in person.
Questions:
Do the leaves need to be completely color-shifted away from green? I know that some of these leaves dried green & that others are frostbitten, but should I wait for all green to disappear?
If it IS time to stack 'em, do I need to add extra moisture? If I make my pile on a dampish day like today, they're flexible enough to manipulate without tearing, but do I need additional water to help with the enzymatic stuff that happens in a pilon?
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#13
Looks good! I hope you were able to finish them. How have they turned out?
I'll take a pic or two when I rotate the stack next Sunday.
I left all the leaves to dry for six weeks, picked through the shrivelly black ones - surprisingly few, actually - and built a stack that I've been airing out and reshuffling every week for...the last month or so...at this point I seem to misremember the exact dates.
Yesterday I tore off a piece of a random leaf, twisted it up, and set it a'smoldering to see what was what - more out of curiosity than anything; I wanted to see if it was curing properly in the cooler-than-ideal temperatures. Incidentally the pile is in a cardboard box in the dining room, so the temperature isn't as low as it would be in the shop. The smoldering leaf tasted like a very angry cigar - but definitely an angry cigar made of tobacco! Why that would surprise and delight me is beyond my ken - I did, after all, plant and transplant and care for tobacco plants.
I'm not in a rush to declare this first batch ammonia-free and ready to burn, but it's going in the right direction. I've been very watchful for mold, and I think that'll be my biggest danger for the next several months.
 
#14
Wonderful! I tied into hands and set vertically into a bag (all I had at my disposal). It’s been months since they’ve come inside and the are dry as dry can get. I’ve connected with the great Wizard of the Ozarks and he’s set me straight on some of my processing fears. I rolled a few cigarettes and they nearly put me on my tail with a buzz unlike any cigarette I’ve ever had.
I’m glad to hear your product wasn’t a total failure as you had feared. It’s also fun to see someone who has done the same process as I have come to near similar conclusion.